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Open Cup Preview: NCFC Hosts Phoenix Rising Wednesday

May 7, 2024 - United Soccer League Championship (USL)
North Carolina FC News Release

CARY, N.C. - North Carolina FC host Phoenix Rising FC in the Round of 32 of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, May 8, at 7 p.m. ET at WakeMed Soccer Park in a meeting of the USL League One and Championship winners from 2023.

NCFC advanced to the Round of 32 with a 1-0 win over Carolina Core FC, with 18-year-old forward Julian Placias scoring the game's decisive goal. Placias has had a good run of minutes in recent weeks, starting the last five games and scoring two goals in all competitions.

NCFC and Phoenix meet in the bottom half of the LeToux Division, which also includes Seattle Sounders of MLS and Louisville City FC of the USL Championship. Those two will also face off on Wednesday, with a 10:30 p.m. ET kickoff in the Pacific Northwest with the winner hosting the NCFC/Phoenix winner in the Round of 16 on May 21-22.

The match will take place on the 17th anniversary of North Carolina FC's first-ever win in club history in any competition, when the then-RailHawks took down Chivas USA, 2-0, behind goals from Philip Long and Anthony Maher in an inter-league friendly with the former MLS franchise.

North Carolina is fresh off a scoreless draw against Rhode Island FC, with Paco Craig, Bryce Washington and Justin Malou putting in a strong defensive performance to hold the visitors to just two shots on target. Evan Conway made his 100th USL regular season appearance in the draw, creating some good chances after entering the game as a substitute.

Scouting Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising are currently sixth in the USL Championship Western Conference with 11 points from nine games.

The Rising attack runs through Colorado Rapids loanee Rémi Cabral, who has six of the team's 10 goals this season. The former member of PSG Academy has multiple seasons of experience in the USL Championship and MLS Next Pro, taking home the latter's Golden Boot last season.

Panos Armenakas has been the creative force behind the team's goalscoring, with 14 open play chances created and one assist. Gabi Torres is also a midfielder to watch out for, with two assists and nine open play chances created.

Rocco Rios Novo has started every game in net for Phoenix, making 26 saves and allowing 11 goals in nine games.

Rising are led by Head Coach Danny Stone, who was promoted to the position this offseason after spending three seasons with the team as an assistant.

Next Up

North Carolina FC will host Loudoun United FC on Tuesday, May 14, at 7 p.m. ET at WakeMed Soccer Park for a midweek USL Championship tilt. Loudoun won the first meeting of 2024, 3-1, at Segra Field in March.

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